Who We Are

The Cantare Chorale of the Sierra Foothills understands how the power of music can bring people of all ages and cultures together. By performing quality choral music, we lift hearts and bring smiles to the faces of our listeners. Made up of volunteers from multiple generations and backgrounds, Cantare is dedicated to delivering an uplifting, transcendent experience for all who attend our concerts.


Over 20 years ago, with the desire to create a group in El Dorado County that performs quality choral music, Bill Pearson and David Smythe formed the Cantare Chorale of the Sierra Foothills. Today, this small, select ensemble of talented local musicians continues its dedication to attain the highest caliber of choral singing and perform a wide variety of musical styles and selections. The group includes performers from diverse musical and personal backgrounds including administrators, businesspeople, clergy members, educators, engineers, homemakers, designers, medical professionals and more. Cantare Chorale members sing for enjoyment and for their love of the arts. It is with pleasure that they share their voices and music with the El Dorado County community and beyond.

Our Director

MariiaMariia Pechenova joined Cantare as Artistic Director in 2014. Hailing from St Petersburg, Russia, she has lived in the US since 2012.

In 2014 she was the assistant professor of music at Folsom Lake College where she assisted with and conducted the college choir. She is also the pianist and organist for traditional services with St. Stephen Lutheran Church in El Dorado Hills.

Mariia says “From madrigals to contemporary music, folk tunes and jazz, my musical ambition lies in the great master works. My primary ambition is always to encourage and inspire the group I am working with to achieve their musical goals beyond their expectations.”

Mariia’s background includes a Master of Arts in Conducting at St Petersburg State University in St Petersburg Russia in 2012. She was Assistant Conductor of the St. Petersburg Women’s Choir led by Sergei Yekimov.

She has performed in operas as soloist and as a member of the choir in recitals of Russian, German, Italian and British opera in the different concert halls in St. Petersburg, Moscow and the Ukraine.

She also participated in opera performances and concerts as a soloist with such prominent artists and conductors as Vladimir Miller, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Elena Obraztsova and other conductors Alexander Sladkovsky and Alexander Tchernushenko.

Under Mariia’s direction and instruction, singers are challenged to develop their vocal skills and performing arts, and will have the opportunity to share the joy of music with the citizens of El Dorado County and beyond.



Auditions Criteria

Our group invites excellent musicians with good sight-reading and vocal ensemble skills to audition and join us. New members are welcome, subject to audition and balance of section sound. Candidates must be familiar with reading music, whether through instrumental lessons or experience in choral singing.

Auditions will include some or all of the following:

(1) Matching pitches and short musical phrases; singing scales to determine range.

(2) Singing a solo of his/her choice, with or without accompaniment (as accompanist is not always available for auditions)-it need not be lengthy or memorized.

(3) Sight-reading a short, relatively simple piece.

(4) Singing a part (soprano, alto, tenor or bass) from music provided by the committee, in a duet or quartet setting.

For more information, please write to us at admin@cantarechorale.com, call (530) 677–6964, or click here.

Rehearsals and Membership

Each season, we welcome new members to our group. Rehearsals are held on Monday evenings. To those who are interested in joining the Cantare Chorale, we invite you to contact us through our inquiry form. We are pleased to schedule auditions for new people of all ages!

Our Accompanist

Wendy-PWendy Payton grew up in Placerville where she began her piano studies with John Trenalone, then studied piano with Dilworth Simmons in Sacramento. At the age of 12, she began teaching piano and had a studio of 10 students throughout her high school years.  She double majored in piano performance (studying with Frank Wiens) and music history at University of the Pacific, and did graduate work in music history and theory at University of Illinois (where her piano teachers were Daisy de Luca Jaffe and Lydia Artymiw) and at the University of Iowa, where she earned a master’s degree in organ (studying with Paul Tegels, John Chappell Stowe and Delbert Disselhorst.) She served on the music faculty at Stillman College (Tuscaloosa, AL) and at Mississippi State University (Starkville, MS). She has performed in 29 states. She accompanies the choir at Union Mine High School, serves as organist and hand bell director at First Lutheran Church in Placerville, and teaches piano and organ in Shingle Springs, Placerville, and at El Dorado Hills Music. She has accompanied Cantare Chorale since 2008.